Proctor 'oks' sale of Omya power division

PROCTOR - Rutland-based Central Vermont Public Service is the new owner of the venerable Vermont Marble Power Division of Omya. And with a single stroke of the pen, Omya's calcium carbonate ore-processing facility in Florence, Vt., became CVPS' largest power customer.

Vermont Marble, a local hydroelectric generating operation, services 875 residents of the Proctor area. The original power operation dates to the early 1900s.

CVPS reached a deal with the Vermont Department of Public Service, the Town of Proctor Selectboard and Omya Inc. for acquiring the operation and all its assets. The utility plans to consolidate the division's service territory.

The sale-which included four hydroelectric plants equaling 18.5 megawatts- makes CVPS the largest hydroelectric generator in the New England region.

The purchase of Marble Power took months to negotiate, according to CVPS.

"The Department of Public Service raised concerns about the purchase price, which led to further negotiations and a reduced price," CVPS Executive Chairman Bob Young said. "The Town of Proctor was also helpful in suggesting ways to reduce the impact of rate changes on customers, which led to the long-term phase-in for residential customers."

Under the settlement, according to CVPS spokesman Steve Costello, the purchase price dropped from $33.2 million to $29.25 million, including $28.25 million for Vermont Marble's hydroelectric facilities and another $1 million for additional assets.

The agreement includes a five-year, six-step phase-in of residential rate changes for existing customers. Omya will fund the transition estimated to be around $1.125 million. Costello noted that the agreement also requires creation of a "value sharing pool" between CVPS's customers, Omya, and CVPS shareholders-if energy market prices and improvements create more value than anticipated.

In a corporate news release, Costello noted CVPS plans to spend up to $15 million upgrading the aging plants; the generators will join the company's hydro network that includes the Otter Creek and East Creek hydro operations. According to company plans, the Proctor hydro substation will be upgraded; the $1.5 million investment cost will be shared among CVPS's 159,000 customers.

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